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Iisi miljoona

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  273 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Nathanael Westin (1903-40) Iisi miljoona on lopullinen parodia Amerikkalaisesta Unelmasta ja menestyksen myytistä. Tuttu tarina pojasta ansaitsemassa ensimmäistä miljoonaansa keskellä 1930luvun pulakautta muuttuu Westin taitavissa käsissä mustaksi komediaksi arvoista, jotka ovat yhteiskunnalle vaarallisin seurauksin kääntyneet vastakohdikseen. Iisi miljoona on Lemuel Pitki...more
Paperback, 140 pages
Published 1980 by Love kirjat (first published 1934)
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"Somehow or another I seem to have slipped in between all the 'schools.' My books meet no needs except my own, their circulation is practically private and I'm lucky to be published. And yet, I only have a desire to remedy all that before sitting down to write, once begun I do it my way. I forget the broad sweep, the big canvas, the shot-gun adjectives, the important people, the significant ideas, the lessons to be taught, the epic Thomas Wolfe, the realistic James Farrell-- and go on making wha...more
OK, so its a grotesquely exaggerated in your face satire: thats the whole point. But the real disturbia is to be found not in the laconic and deadpan list of amputated fingers, scalps and other syphilitic like loss of extremeties which litter the story board, rather the uncomfortable anticlimax which goes against the grain of Western folklore: that if you work hard enough, try hard enough, chase your dreams and persevere, you will succeed.
No-one has ever viewed the American Dream with more cynicism, or more venom, than Nathanael West. His literary output was incredibly slender – one short novel, The Day of the Locust, and three novellas – but time has done nothing to diminish the power and the bitterness of his vision. West’s satire isn’t subtle, but it’s undeniably effective. Published in 1934, this is a savage and bleak little book.
There's a good chance I've read or deliberately chosen not to read this short work 10 years ago when it was paired with the book Miss Lonelyhearts. But this time, in this era, in this part of Bulgaria, the lurid cartoon quality of the book, exposing the brutality of dream makers, seemed much deeper and more timely.

People call it a satire, but the characters are far too broad and stooge-like for satire. So it didn't surprise me that West started as a cartoonist. It reads more like an especially v...more
This third of West's four novels is a thematic continuation of Miss Lonelyhearts, his previous work. In that book, the failure of Christian religion to help victims of the Depression, and indeed solve the crisis itself, was the primary theme, with the fallacy of the American Dream secondary. In A Cool Million, the themes are reversed. The assumption that every American can achieve wealth and honor is mercilessly savaged while exposing the bigotry and racism of the Protestant elite.

Lemuel Pitkin...more
A Cool Million tells the story-- in mock heroic style-- of a young man who goes out into the world, armed only with his industriousness and optimism, to claim his piece of the American Dream. Within the first few pages, he and his love interest are, variously, beaten, raped, imprisoned, sold into slavery, mugged, swindled, and maimed. To call it a savage satire is an understatement, then, and its humor is so pitch black that reading it is sometimes painful. It makes its point boldly and persuasi...more
Becky Ferreira
Such an underrated West novel. It's a pretty clear rip off of Voltaire's Candide, but you know what? I am okay with reading a 20th Century version of that masterpiece, since the lessons are as dramatic set against the backdrop of the Great Depression. It's also interesting how the American Dream lines up so well with Leibniz's ideas about optimism, and that gives West's work an even sharper edge. As always, West is so darkly hilarious in this book that I was constantly laughing, then feeling rea...more
Lawren Hyder
"Like many another 'poet,' he balmed his literary failure on the American public instead of his own lack of talent, and his desire for revolution was really a desire for revenge. Furthermore, having lost faith in himself, he thought it was his duty to undermine the nation's faith in itself."
Published in the early 1930s. Heavy handed satire about a young man following the advice of his successful elders to become wealthy. He just needs to pay off his mother's home before the lender forecloses, but has no way of coming up with any money. This is when some people actually believed that you could pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get rich by hard work and sobriety. The 1930s in the US were when the 10% owned about the same percentage of the Nation's wealth as they do today, 85%....more
Robert Beveridge
Nathanael West, A Cool Million (Berkeley, 1934)

Despite having published less than six hundred pages of material in his short and rather unhappy life, Nathanael West is revered in critical circles for two groundbreaking American novels, Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust. West published three other novels during his lifetime, and while Lonelyhearts and Locust are constantly in print, the others-- The Dream Life of Balso Snell, A Cool Million, and Good Hunting-- are considerably harder to...more
Raül De Tena
Nathanael West es mayormente conocido por dos libros. Lo que es muy significativo, teniendo en cuenta que tan sólo tuvo tiempo a escribir cuatro novelas antes de morir junto a su esposa en un accidente de tráfico justo un día después de que su gran amigo F. Scott Fitzgerald falleciera de un ataque al corazón. El primero de esos manuscritos es, sin lugar a dudas, “Miss Lonelyheart” (1933), donde West conseguía retratar cómo un periodista que coge un trabajo alimenticio respondiendo la columna sen...more
Harri Halonen
Great novella from underrated writer. "A Cool Million" is story about endless struggle of Lemuel Pitkin. On his journey Lemuel is being robbed, arrested, beaten, molested, scalped and still finds something positive in life. I found myself laughing to Lemuels endless optimism and how our western lifestyle rips him a apart. Also the USA turning into fascism and Lemuel being their symbol is hilarious. Message in this book is timeless. It shows the problems of our nations and how fascist our so call...more
Unrelenting, West does his best to "debunk" the American Dream at a time when I'm informed it was quite necessary to do so. A true shock-fest, the tragic story of Lemuel and Betty gets a little too tied up in the author's ambition and parody for it to really be savored; instead of being "hilarious" at times, it becomes downright rancid. Many passages left me confused as to who is being criticized and what is being praised, and Lem's inability to develop any sort of street smarts is not nearly as...more
Conlin Conlin
An absurdist parody of Horatio Alger novels in which the hero, Lemuel Pitkin, goes from contentment in rural Vermont to rags in the streets of New York City, to accidentally defrauding jewelers, to the leadership of a fascist political party, and back down again. But like a Depression-era Candide, he never loses sight of his dreams of wealth, despite losing most of his body parts along the way, and constant antagonism from Chinese white slavers, thuggish Irish police officers, and the dual consp...more
This is an enjoyable satire written in 1934 about America post-Depression and a young man's attempt to make his fortune in New York City.
not really discussed in the (substantial) body of criticsm on west; i found this to be a hilarious send-up of Algerism in american fiction. its politics are a bit simplistic, but i think its various catastrophes foreshadow the end of The Day of the Locust. eminently worth the time: short, funny, engaging. West's career batting average, in my mind, was .750, with three hits (this, Miss Lonelyhearts, Locust) and one serious miss (The Dream Life of Balso Snell). I'd rate it a must-read if you're in...more
Oh, how horrifying!
Not nearly as good as "Lonely Hearts" or "Day of the Locust", West's only two other novels. Bizarre, absurd, sometimes silly satire of Horatio Alger novels and America's Depression-era (and forever) flirtation with facism. Sinclair Lewis, John Steinbeck, and even West himself (see above) cover this ground so much better. If this were an album by a respected musician I would suspect it was a "contractual obligation" effort. Half baked.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
My Bucket List:

Drink a full-calorie soda
Model a spring line
Use phrase 'like a sniper at an idiot cull' more often
Realize that practical concerns can sometime intrude
Write an Oscar acceptance speech
Generate a color other than under house arrest via my mood ring
Share fact 'William Shakespeare died on his birthday' to strangers
Ha! Perhaps not as politically wise as Twain, and more obvious than Vonnegut, West is just as cynical about America. The hero goes from healthy innocent American Boy to downtrodden symbol of the failure of Capitalism to give a shit about anything but itself. A little dark what with all the amputations and rapes, but a jolly fine read!
Louis Dirigible
not the west you start with or read even on its own. a good example of why he's known for thorough negation. I've been reading about his politics recently (a leftist/comsymp) but bolsheviks are as stylized and emptied as the capitalists/american dreamers. It gets better but is a strange piece between lonelyhearts and locust.
Mar 29, 2008 Sean rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Smart readers with a sense of humor
Shelves: favorites
A lesser-known Nathaniel West than Day of the Locust or Miss Lonelyhearts, this is a very successful modern take on the picaresque novel form a la Don Quixote, Gulliver's Travels, Candide, etc -- a big influence on my own novels The Hope Valley Hubcap King and The Time of New Weather.
Josh A
Nathanael West loves to make his characters suffer. Another satrical rip on American life. With a dismembered protagonist, facist, capitalist, and communists. No one gets away from West's commentary.

I liked this one; not as much as "Miss Lonelyhearts"
Gordon Howard
One of the most scabrous and cynical pieces of fiction ever foisted on the American public. It is much rawer and less refined than either Miss Lonelyhearts or Day of the Locust, West's more famous novellas.
Caitlin Mitchell
A satire focusing on parody and the grotesque. It was a mildly humorous, quick read; however it left a lot to be desired.
Hilarious. One of my favourite comic novels.
Nicole Fraticelli
Dark humor debunks the American Dream.
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Born Nathanael von Wallenstein Weinstein to prosperous Jewish parents; from the first West set about creating his own legend, and anglicising his name was part of that process. At Brown University in New York, he befriended writer and humourist S. J. Perelman (who later married his sister), and started writing and drawing cartoons. As his cousin Nathan Wallenstein also attended Brown, West took to...more
More about Nathanael West...
The Day of the Locust Miss Lonelyhearts/The Day of the Locust Miss Lonelyhearts and A Cool Million Miss Lonelyhearts A Cool Million and The Dream Life of Balso Snell: Two Novels

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